Finesse got started in music in the late ’80s as a young lyricist who would later hit any borough in the city to battle local artists trying to get on. One of those artists was an ambitious eighteen-year-old AG.
big little lies season 2 episode 6 – Big L Interview
Thirteen years ago today, Big L, widely regarded as one of the best and most creative rappers to ever do it, was gunned down outside a Harlem apartment. In 1991, he founded the Harlem rap group Children of the Corn with Killa Cam , Murda Mase , and Bloodshed On 11 February of that same year, Coleman appeared on Yo! MTV Raps with Lord Finesse to help promote Finesse’s studio album Return of the Funky Man Coleman’s first professional appearance came on the song “Yes You May (Remix)”, the B-side of the 1992 single “Party Over Here” by Lord Finesse, and his first album appearance was on “Represent” off of Showbiz & A.G. ‘s 1992 album Runaway Slave In that same year, he won an amateur freestyle battle, which consisted of about 2,000 contestants. In 1993, Coleman signed to Columbia Records. Around this time, Coleman had become a member Lord Finesse’s Bronx-based hip hop collective Diggin’ in the Crates Crew which consisted of Lord Finesse, Diamond D ,C. , Fat Joe , Buckwild , Showbiz , and A.G.
C.: L had his own path that people would’ve gravitated towards, pockets for different audiences. But these days, you got assholes online saying He was cool but he was underground.” Shit, he sold half a million records dead! His album went gold before he was cold! Half a million records is not underground.
On the night of February 14, 1999, Lamont Coleman, better known by his rap alias Big L, was left in cold blood after authorities found the 24-year-old gunned down near his home in Harlem, New York. The rapper, who had released his debut album in 1995, Lifestylez Ov Da Poor and Dangerous, and was preparing to sign a reported deal with Roc-A-Fella Records, was shot nine times in the face and chest at 139th and Lenox Ave.
Yet aside from the ’99 single Bonafide” featuring Jay-Z, and past collaborations with Fat Joe and Big Pun, OC has kept little contact with hip-hop’s commercial side. That paradox has caused periods of noticeable struggles. In the tussle to maintain artistic integrity and still sell records, OC has often voiced frustrations with the critical lows in his music career—to an extent where fans and critics have wondered if he might throw in the towel or suddenly go pop. But his recent Oasis collaboration with AG, reminded listeners once again that OC still hasn’t lost his step, even if he progresses at his own pace. And he still has love for the collective he became a part of, despite inner-tensions.
Lamont Coleman (30 May 1974 – 15 February 1999), better known by stage name Big L, was an American rapper from Harlem, Manhattan, New York. His first professional appearance came on the remix of Lord Finesse ‘s “Yes You May” in 1992, and he later became a member of the Diggin’ in the Crates Crew due to his association with Finesse. Big L released his debut album, Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous , in 1995, and significantly contributed to the underground hip hop scene in New York. Shortly before his death, he created his own independent label, Flamboyant Entertainment , on which he released one of his best-known singles, ” Ebonics “, in 1998.
Big L’s first noteworthy appearance came on Lord Finesse’s Yes You May (Remix) ,” yet it wasn’t until three years later that Big L released his debut album, Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous. In 1998, he founded Flamboyant Entertainment, his own indie label, where he released Ebonics ,” one of the most extraordinary hip-hop tracks you will ever happen upon. Unfortunately, Lifestylez was the only album by Big L released while he was alive, and Ebonics” was the last record he ever dropped.
Big L was just 24 years old when he passed away, but his life was nevertheless a rich hip-hop experience. Phinazee recalls him picking up a microphone and mimicking other rappers’ rhymes when he was five, sneaking him into the Beacon Theatre date of Run-DMC’s King of Rock tour when he was nine, and, along with their other brother, Leroy, styling themselves after Harlem’s Phase II Crew as the Lil’ Phase II Crew, cheekily adding the prefix Lil’ to each member’s name. (L became Lil’ Mr. Shades.) At the time, L’s ambit and ambitions were local—the Lil’ Phase II Crew performed outside their building, No. 126 on 139th Street, leaving the original trio to take over a nearby park—and it took a figure from the Bronx to propel his career.
Still, the inner-conflicts come out most visibly when his name comes up. In Lord Finesse’s view: he’s an opportunist, one who reaches out to the crew every two years. In AG’s view: he’s a rapper with a different philosophy, but still family at the end of the day. In his own view: he’s just doing what has to do to get things going, and he never lost respect for the crew he came up with. So naturally, while Fat Joe has publicly said that he would love to do another project with D.I.T.C., Finesse and other members have voiced their reservations.
Finesse: I met Big L at Rock ‘N’ Will’s record store on 125th. I was over there doing an autograph signing. I’m in there and he comes in with his boy and he sends his boy over like, My man want to rhyme for you.” I’m looking like, Yeah, aight.” Matter of fact, I’m about to give them my manager’s number. Everybody would rhyme for me but it wasn’t nothing prolific. But they was like, Yo, man, he’ll rhyme for you. If you like him we’ll never bother you again.” I was like, Word? Let me hear him.” And I was just blown away: the rhyme styles, of course the punch lines, the compounds. I seen the potential right away, but I was looking more at the age differential between me and him. I knew he was going to be great.
In 1992, he recorded various demos, some of which were featured on his debut album Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous , he also founded the Harlem rap group Children of the Corn (COC) with Killa Cam (Cam’ron), Murda Mase (Ma$e), Bloodshed and McGruff in 1993. 11 17 On February 11, Coleman appeared on Yo! MTV Raps with Lord Finesse to help promote Finesse’s studio album Return of the Funky Man 18 Coleman’s first professional appearance came on “Yes You May (Remix)”, the B-side of “Party Over Here” (1992) by Lord Finesse, 17 and his first album appearance was on “Represent” off of Showbiz & A.G. ‘s Runaway Slave (1992). 13 In that same year, he won an amateur freestyle battle, which consisted of about 2,000 contestants and held by Nubian Productions. 19 In 1992, Coleman signed to Columbia Records 11 Around this time, L joined Lord Finesse’s Bronx-based hip hop collective Diggin’ in the Crates Crew (DITC) which consisted of Lord Finesse, Diamond D ,C. , Fat Joe , Buckwild , Showbiz and A.G.
Even when L rhymed that he was known for “snatchin’ purses and bombin purses,” it was always with a wink-wink far removed from the gangsta posturing of his peers. This track from L’s only proper album Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous features then-unknown rapper Jay-Z. Yep. Jigga was a mere guest to L’s spotlighting role.
HARLEM — The chief suspect in the murder of rapper Big L in 1999 was gunned down in Harlem Thursday night, sources said. He released his debut album, Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous in 1995, and significantly contributed to the underground hip-hop scene.
Coleman is often credited in helping to create the horrorcore genre of hip hop due to his 1992 song “Devil’s Son.” However, not all his songs fall into this genre, for example, in the song “Street Struck” Coleman discusses the difficulties of growing up in the ghetto and describes the consequences of living a life of crime. Idris Goodwin of The Boston Globe said, “Big L had an impressive command of the English language”, and the best example was Coleman’s song “Ebonics”.
Coleman was born in Harlem, Manhattan, New York on 30 May 1974 as the youngest and third child of Gilda Terry (d. 2008) and Charles Davis. His father left the family when Coleman was a child. His two siblings are Donald and Leroy “Big Lee” Phinazee (d. 1999). At the age of 12, Coleman became a big fan of hip hop and began freestyling against people in his own neighborhood. Around this time, Coleman adopted the stage name “Big L”, a reference to his childhood nickname “Little L”. In the summer of 1990, he met Lord Finesse at an autograph session in a record shop on 125th Street. After Coleman performed a freestyle, he and Finesse exchanged numbers.
His brother, Thomas Riley, said Woodley and Big L were childhood friends. Riley suspects a Big L fan may have killed his brother, saying there’s an abundance of chatter online fingering Woodley as the rapper’s killer.
Finesse: His wit and his imagination in putting rhymes together. He’d take a punchline and go left field with it; you wouldn’t even see it coming. From a lyrical standpoint, those are the most incredible punchlines. The key is to make you rewind. Big L’s rewind factor made you go, “Goddamn, wait up, he said what?” And you have to go back. You have to. He took the time to make it rhyme flawlessly and it’s just so masterfully put together.
Harlem – New York City based hip-hop MC and a member of the D.I.T.C. crew. Kurt Woodley: I started Big L’s introduction to Columbia Records. Woodley, who lived at the West 139th Street building, was pronounced dead at Harlem Hospital , police said.
Woodley has a long history of violent crimes and was released from prison in September 2015 after serving four years on a weapons charge unrelated to the rapper’s death, officials said. Kurt: I left at that time, I had an all-label deal with RCA. I remember asking one of Sony Music chairman Donnie Ienner’s people, What happened with L?” They just thought he wasn’t commercial enough.
Three posthumous albums have been released, mainly consisting of unreleased songs which were put together by Rich King and his brother, Donald. Multiple tributes have been given to Coleman, including in The Source, MTV, and HipHop DX. A documentary is in the works titled Street Struck: The Big L Story (2016).
Lamont Coleman, more commonly known as Big L”, is one of the illest to ever spit on the microphone. His lyricism is on the same level as some of the other All-Time greats, such as Nas, Eminem, and Biggie. In my opinion, Big L is the Greatest Rapper of All-Time, and this is why I believe he is.
These days, Finesse spends most of his time back behind the scenes making beats, setting up shows, finding new avenues for himself and his crew, and occasionally performing for dedicated fans overseas. The D.I.T.C. co-founder and original underboss, known for his laid-back old-school delivery, has always valued organically grown hip-hop. Finesse got started in music in the late ’80s as a young lyricist who would later hit any borough in the city to battle local artists trying to get on. One of those artists was an ambitious eighteen-year-old AG.
Investigators believe that in 1999, Big L was part of a crew that robbed drug dealers, sources said. Police believe that the rapper would double-cross people he knew by letting the robbery crew know the location of cash-carrying drug dealers prime for a stickup.
This year marked the 20th anniversary since the unfortunate passing of uptown rapper, Big L. A few days ago, Flip da Script granted the public with a rare conversation from Harlem OGs Big Bootsie and Shineboy.
If L comes up as an afterthought, it’s not for lack of skills. During his 24-plus years on earth, the Harlem rap prodigy left behind a painfully small body of work: just one album, a handful of singles and freestyles. Yet on the strength of these recordings he is consistently mentioned among the greatest of the greats. But of course the music only tells part of the story.
That farm-system approach to cultivating artists dates back to a time when Lord Finesse was at the peak of his mentoring game and helping others get on: like the late Lamont Coleman. He was shot and killed in Harlem on the night of February 15, 1999, just blocks away from his home. He was only 24 years old at the time of his death.
Big L has been cited as an influence by many of hip-hop’s biggest stars, including Eminem, who was undoubtedly inspired by L’s uncanny wordplay and his propensity to shock listeners, and Mac Miller, who has one of L’s song titles, Street Struck,” tattooed on his arm, and names Lamont Coleman as the reason why he decided to become a rapper.
The first AG & Showbiz album, Runaway Slave, released on Payday Records in September ’92, has become a staple inside and outside of the music industry. Riding off of the success of that release, later ranked as one of Billboard’s Top Ten Underground LP’s, the duo dropped four more projects together over the next fifteen years. Their Full Scale EP on D.I.T.C. Records played in steady rotation on the Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show on WKCR in ’98 providing them with a fresh buzz around the five boroughs. Four years later, in the 2002 movie 8 Mile, millions of people watched Eminem (Rabbit) battle one of his many opponents over the instrumental to Showbiz & AG’s single Next Level (Nyte Time Mix)” produced by DJ Premier.
Lamont Coleman (May 30, 1974 – February 15, 1999), better known as Big L. He was born and raised in Harlem, New York, where he started his rap career with Children of the Corn then D.I.T.C. (Diggin’ in the Crates Crew) before perusing a solo career.
Before he was taken, Big L was in the process of working on his second album, The Big Picture. It was set to feature cameos from Fat Joe, Tupac Shakur, and Big Daddy Kane, among other MCs. Although Big L was not around for its release, Big L’s manager, Rich King, along with a team of talented producers (DJ Premier, Ron Browz, Ron G, Lord Finesse, Pete Rock, Shomari, Mike Heron, Ysae, and Showbiz), assured that The Big Picture saw the light of day. The album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) a month after its release, a proud moment for all involved. The Big Picture served as a fitting follow-up to Lifestylez, and proof positive that Big L was one of the most gifted rappers to ever have walked the planet.
There are more, but I wanted to highlight them elsewhere, such as Big L’s best verse on Da Graveyard”. In my opinion, it’s one of the best verses that anyone’s ever written in Hip-Hop history. If you haven’t listened to it yet, you’re really missing out. L entered with a very aggressive tone and he kept it throughout the entire verse. Combine that with the stellar lyrics he wrote and you have one of the greatest pieces of rap. Here’s a video to listen to his verse, and even if you’ve already listened to it you should listen to it again. Under the video are the lyrics if you want to see them as he torches the microphone.
Funk Flex: on the notion that L was going to sign to Roc-A-Fella Records The Roc wouldn’t have been the best thing for him—matter of fact, I believe the Roc was gonna shelve L if they signed him. They were never gonna put that project out. They were scared of him. He was on that freestyle where he spanked Jay-Z, remember? the legendary 7-minute freestyle between L and Jay-Z on The Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito Show on WKCR, for which Lord Sear was present. That back-and-forth was an extension of previous rhyme battles in Harlem. I dare anybody to tell me different.
In the eyes of most hip-hop artists, Diamond D has done enough to continue doing what he wants. His October ’08 release on Babygrande Records , the Huge Hefner Chronicles, was crafted as an ode to the late J Dilla ‘s Pay Jay—a seasoned producer rhyming on other people’s beats. The D.I.T.C. co-founder, and one of the first hip-hop producers to start a solo career as a lyricist, made his first mark DJing for Jazzy Jay of the Zulu Nation in ’79.
Coleman caught the eye of Damon Dash , the CEO of Roc-A-Fella Records , after the release of “Ebonics”. Dash wanted to sign him to Roc-A-Fella, but Coleman wanted his friends to sign with him. On 8 February 1999, Coleman, Herb McGruff , C-Town and Jay-Z started the process to sign with Roc-A-Fella Records as a group called “The Wolfpack”.
Lord Sear: We need to talk about Big L more—not just on his birthday or the day he died. We need to hear his catalog more. We need to do a Harlem thing, with him leading the way: Harlem rap and what it meant to the culture. Everybody wanted to come to Harlem. Harlem was that shit.
Big L takes it back to the basics on the fan-favorite, “’98 Freestyle.” The song was taken from an appearance on Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Garcia’s legendary rap radio show. On the song, L goes in over Lord Finesse’s classic instrumentals and rips the track to shreds with the ease of a smooth assassin. “’98 Freestyle” is nothing short of a gem in the catalog of Lamont Coleman.
But even throughout the crew’s various struggles with the politics of music and their own differing visions, none of them have lost their stride, burnt themselves out, or suddenly changed careers. A full two decades after their emergence, D.I.T.C. still hold ground as hip-hop’s unsung heroes—far from collectively famous, but one of the culture’s most influential collectives. And their individual names can be seen or heard in any part of the world where hip-hop has a home and one of its connoisseurs owns a record crate, cassette box, CD tower, or digital playlist.
Lamont Coleman – the rapper who was known as Big L was born on May 30 1974. He was the third and youngest child of Gilda Terry (d. 2008) and Charles Davis. His father left the family while Coleman was a child. He has two siblings, Donald and Leroy Phinazee (d.2002), who were the children of Gilda Terry and Mr. Phinazee. Coleman received the nicknames “Little L” and “‘mont ‘mont” as a child. At the age of 12, Coleman became a big hip hop fan and started freestyling against his own neighborhood. Raised in Harlem’s uptown sector “Danger Zone”-139th Street and Lennox Avenue, Big L was faced with the temptation’s of the streets. Instead of living the street life he chose rap as a way out. He founded a group called Three the Hard Way in 1990, but was quickly broken up due to a lack of enthusiasm. It consisted of Coleman, a “Doc Reem”, and a “Rodney”. No studio albums were released, and after Rodney left, the group was called Two Hard Motherfuckers.
The class found its way to the church pews in 2018 with much fanfare. With scripture from the Old Testament, Rev. Norton and her team strategically weaved through Beyoncé’s vast discography to curate a service with some of the singer’s most moving records.